David Javerbaum might be a self-proclaimed “lazy person”, but it’s fairly erroneous to pin that label on a multiple Emmy award winner whose writing credits include The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, several books, and lyrics to the opening number of two Tony Awards shows. This, in addition to a stint as producer of The Late Late Show with James Corden.
Currently, Javerbaum’s creations can be seen on Broadway as the playwright of An Act of God starring Sean Hayes. The comedy scribe based the work on his book, The Last Testament: A Memoir By God, which was followed by a hugely popular, now retired twitter feed, @theTweetof God. It proposes a new set of Ten Commandments (with some of the originals maintained) based on recent and current affairs.
The show returned to New York about a year after Jim Parsons originated the role on Broadway at Studio 54. Later, Hayes tackled the role in Los Angeles and is now imprinting his own stamp of Sovereignty at the Booth Theatre.
Manhattan Digest recently caught up with Javerbaum to talk about his “higher ground.”
MD: How much of the show was rewritten to cater to the different personalities of Jim Parson and Sean Hayes?
DJ: For the personalities? None. The rewrites were mainly topical but the character is the character. Both actors just performed it very differently.
MD: Yes. They both had extremely different interpretations, but I don’t think that I could have picked a favorite. They were both wonderful.
Did you have a specific actor in mind when you started to adapt the book and the tweets to a play?
DJ: I wanted to have as big of a name as possible for the sake of publicity, but I deliberately wrote the character so that it had a voice that could be portrayed by a lot of different people. As the old chestnut goes, “What if God was one of us?”
MD: I realize that casting is out of your hands, but is there anyone you would like to see in the role?
DJ: There are many people, but I’m not going to give any names. Although I do want to open it to varied genders.
MD: That brings me to my next question about changing the image of God as a white male.
DJ: Absolutely. It was just a coincidence that the two who have played this were white television stars. It’s already playing in Portugal and we plan to tour it in Europe, so it’s pretty clear that the cast can vary. Certainly, I would like to see a woman in the role.
MD: Is this something that you’d like to bring back every year?
DJ: If there’s a commercial demand, I’m happy to meet the supply.
MD: f you can put a Theological cap on for a moment, what is about a belief and/or discussion in God that draws people?
DJ: It’s the biggest topic that could be; The debate over whether or not there is a God. It’s also the question that has caused the most heartache and tragedy and has caused a lot of things that I happen to find not all that great as an approach to life. It seemed like a good target. I had never known of a work before that had tackled “God’s memoirs”. As far as I knew, it was unclaimed territory.
MD: In writing this, did you always separate your own viewpoints from what you thought God’s views would be?
DJ: On certain issues, our ideas coincide. For example, I’m happy that He has no homophobia. On other issues, his views are more violent than I would adopt, but that’s not anything that I made up; it’s all there in the Old Testament.
MD: I read an interview where you talked about your writing process, and I very much related. You said, “Writing is a whole lot of getting nothing done. It’s amazing how much of the time is spent actually writing. It’s about one percent.” So, what are you doing with the time that isn’t actually writing?
DJ: I’m playing a lot of stupid adventure games…I’m thinking and pacing. But I would say that, compared to other writers, I spent less time rewriting and more time writing. I’m aware that I’ve had a pretty good career but when I look back, I feel a bit like a lazy person.
MD: As a New Jersey native who now resides in California, do you think God has a preference for either coast? Do you have a preference?
DJ: I think God’s preference is neither coast. Obviously, it’s the heartland. That’s where the real God fearing people are! For me, I’m very happy in California. After 20 years in New York, I wanted a change. California isn’t the vacuous place that it has long been portrayed.
An Act of God is now playing on Broadway at the Booth Theatre (West 45th Street between Broadway and 8th). For tickets and information, visit the box office or click here.